Show and tell

It’s one of those days, one of those late-summer days where it is still summer but fall already has your heart by the back of the neck like a fox stealing a goose so I took a walk to fend off melancholy. I filled up the plastic bag in my pocket with a few handfuls of crow treats and went to the park.
There were new crows on the way to the park, some new anyway, and some regulars but they all knew me. How do they describe you to each other? They recognize me no matter what I am wearing, even hats and umbrellas. They leave other people alone, but they haze me when I try to pass through their territory without treats. They swoop me and if that doesn’t work they swoop closer and whack me on the head with their wing. Or touch me with their wing, I don’t know how the gesture is intended, but I love it.
How does a crow describe a human? How does their language work?
Same thing in the park. Some new, some old crows, the ones in the territories where I feed them all knew me. Two sentry crows in the beginning, more as I passed through the trees near the benches, then a lot more over by the ponds. Relaxing off to the sides, higher up in trees, pretending they are not watching but definitely watching because when you toss the first treat to a crow they all swoop down.
I walked to the far side of the pond, surrounded by perambulating crows, some stepping, some hopping, all of us nonchalantly not acknowledging each other’s existence.
I sat on a bench and they surrounded me, waiting. Watching. I look at my watch. I’ll wait two more minutes for stragglers then we’ll start the lecture, I felt like saying. I toss them a few to keep their attention. That works. I feed several of them by hand. They hop up onto the back of the park bench and I stretch out my arms and they eat from my hands.
When people walk by we all pretend not to know each other again.
What do you guys think of this, I say. I pull a black crow feather out of an inner pocket of my suit jacket and show it to them.
They’re all like, whoa! Their eyes get big and they take a few steps back, the whole bunch of them. A few leave entirely.
I’m like, it’s ok, I didn’t pluck it from someone, I found it on the sidewalk!
They were wary after that. No one wanted to eat from my hand anymore, for the rest of my lunch break.
They still followed me around though, so I had to budget the remaining treats to see me through to the edge of their territory.

Let me tell you something

what was it
there was something
what was it though
dang
dang
was it something about a crow?
no
death maybe?
no
i stuck my nose in a spider web
while watering the thistles
that is how i discovered the
writing spider in the back yard
that wasn’t it, either
although it was the biggest and most
beautiful spider i have ever seen up close
and i mean up close
hm
i rode my bike to the train station
i will be retiring some day and
to save money i have been considering
getting rid of my car and riding a bike.
maybe that was it.
my bike is very old.
for a bike.
i used to run my daughters around on it
in a little child’s seat.
they’re all grown up now.
it needed new tires because the old ones
had rotted off
and kept going flat.
so i got cool new tires that never go flat.
and i checked the sky before
going to the train station
because it always rains when i ride my bike
but the skies were blue.
the first thing that happened
the chain fell off the front gear
i got that back on
then the tail light cover
fell off and clacked along
the street
i got that back on too.
my bike is a three speed now
because i can only shift the front gears
the back thing
no longer works.
but that’s okay bc it’s flat
where i live, the landscape.
when i told my family about it
my daughter asked
were you leaving a trail of parts
so you could find your way home?
was that it?
was it that my wife had to give me a ride home
from the station that night
because it was raining so hard?
?
i don’t think that was it either.
this is driving me nuts.

No one is upset and nothing hurts

I was dreaming this morning when a cat woke me with a bladder massage.
In the dream, my extended family was celebrating my birthday at my childhood home, around a redwood picnic table my father had built, on a sunny summer day, in the shade of a cherry tree, a maple and some redwoods.
There was picnic food on the table, no animals were trying to steal it, the sun was warm but gentle and not blinding, the way summer sun used to be.
Everyone was happy at the same time, but not excited, there was no drama, no one was sad or mad at someone, everyone got along.
My grandmother was not there. I imagine she was in Montana, as a teenager, riding horses.
My uncle, who sometimes felt compelled to be weird at gatherings, I suppose due to anxiety, was not there. He might have been in the hills filling his green and white Ford pickup with scavenged firewood.
My parents (whom I remember missing yesterday) were there. They were younger than they had been when they died. 30s or 40s. My father looked fit and was not wearing a shirt, which was typical of him in the summer at that age. I talked to my mother.
I talked to my father. I asked him how Heaven was.
No one is upset and nothing hurts, he said.
My sister gave me a letter she had written for my birthday. It was written with a wide calligraphy pen in several colors. Each color said something else, and the colors intertwined, and tangled, and she had written it in her normal handwriting not calligraphy despite the nib she was using so I was unable to read it.
I asked her to read it for me.
She was about to read it when I woke up.

New cryptid just dropped

Allow me to announce that I have discovered a new cryptid, one so new it’s not on the Wikipedia List of Cryptids yet:

The Chupacapybara, a mysterious, slightly chubby, land-dwelling (but water-loving) creecher that sucks goats but everybody loves it.

Running up that you-know-what

I was racing a nun up a hill this morning, the final and steepest hill on my morning walk from the train station to the office – it goes past a nunnery, convent, something along those lines, the ground floor windows are barred and when you look in you generally see nuns, stamping out license plates, sharpening spoons into shivs in metal shop – and she was tough, despite the early heat – maybe she wanted to get a to a bus before the dogs picked up her scent – the scent of a nun – Al Pacino’s lowest-grossing film (at the box office at least) but I was doing pretty good, I was ahead, I was leading but then I had to stop to feed a crow because rule is, if the crow recognizes you and you have anything edible on your person you must share and this crow definitely recognized me – I even recognized it, black with a white spot, unmistakable – plus it said, Racing nuns now are we, Mig? And I was like, More like trying to get in my fitness points this morning – my wife gave me one of those watches that tracks your every move – And this is my best hill, the longest, steepest hill on my morning walk, here have a Frolic. Have five Frolics. And it went to work on the Frolics and left me alone. And that’s why I got fitness points this morning, just not as many as I had hoped for.

I just want to say

I just want to say
that it doesn’t hurt much
when a crow pecks you
accidentally
trying to get the doggie treat
you are holding out for it
while sitting on the park bench
surrounded by crows
regarding you like acolytes
waiting for words of enlightenment.
It is scarier feeding a bagel to a juvenile seagull
than a snack to a crow.
This is especially true if you grew up
getting pecked by chickens all the time.
I just want to say
my thing with the crows
is not going unnoticed at the park,
a young family walked by
and referred to me
as “Professor Rabe”.
I just want to say
that I am still sadder
and more broken up by
my mother’s death
than I had expected.
But the crows help.
If someone asks me about them
I will say, “I have to come and feed them,
they know where I work and
come and shit on my balcony otherwise,”
but that is not the reason.
I know it’s just crows and doggie treats,
but it’s a comfort.

Calibration

I don’t know if you do this.
Maybe you do this. Maybe it’s universal:
measure all other memories by this one memory you have.
Not necessarily a dramatic or rambunctious one.
For me it is the time I sat in the bamboo patch next to my uncle’s junk pile.
The main quality is one of peace. I was about 3-4 years old, so not in school yet.
No obligations. Summer. Warm – I had a beagle pal cuddling and watching out for me.
I was wearing bib overalls and a felt hat.
Watching chickens, those nourishing animals, scratch in the dirt.
Watching their shadows, and the shadows of the bamboo, playing in the light.
Listening to the sounds the chickens made.
No other humans to make happy or proud or otherwise perform for.
Just the peace. Lots of time. Animals. Plants. Smells. Interesting light.